Forest Preserve District police are warning preserve patrons to take precautions to prevent burglaries to motor vehicles.
Five car break-ins have been reported at Will County forest preserves so far this year, according to Police Chief Tracy Chapman. The break-ins occurred at Whalon Lake Dog Park in Naperville, Lower Rock Run Preserve Dog Park in Joliet, Hammel Woods Dog Park in Shorewood and Centennial Trail – Schneider’s Passage in Romeoville. Police are investigating these incidents and patrols have been increased in these preserves in response.
Chapman encourages people to hide their valuables before they pull into Forest Preserve parking lots, not after they arrive. Thieves could be watching as you stow items on the floor or rear seat or cover valuables with a blanket before exiting the vehicle, Chapman explained.
“Leaving items at home is the best idea, but if you have to take them with you, hiding them beforehand is the safest course of action,” she said.
Also, it’s important to call Forest Preserve Police if an incident occurs. Call 911 in an emergency situation where the thief is still on the scene. To report a vehicle break-in that has already occurred, call the non-emergency number, 815.727.6191, to reach the Laraway Communications Center, which dispatches for Forest Preserve police.
Thefts from motor vehicles accounted for 26.2 percent of all U.S. larceny thefts in 2016, according to FBI crime statistics. Here are some tips to prevent motor vehicle burglaries at the preserves and anywhere else you park your vehicle:
- Lock vehicle doors and close all windows, including the sunroof, and don’t leave the keys inside.
- Don’t leave packages or enticing bags, or even empty boxes, out in plain view on car seats or the floor. Even loose change can be an enticement for a thief.
- Consider getting covers that will shield open areas in vehicles without trunks.
- Park in busy, well-lit areas.
- Hide charging cables and other items that would indicate a valuable piece of electronics (MP3 player, laptop etc.) is hidden somewhere else in the car.
- Hiding keys on the exterior of a vehicle is unwise because thieves know all the good hiding places.
- Record serial numbers of electronics in case they are recovered after a break-in.
- Be on alert for suspicious individuals who are walking around parked vehicles or driving slowly through parking lots for an extended period of time.
- Be a good witness. Get a description, location, direction of travel and license plate number when available. Report incidents immediately – but do not confront the suspected thief. Let the police handle the situation for your safety.
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